Sunday, March 04, 2007


...There are only two choices left: We confront the monster, or we invite it to dinner.”

At another point in the movie, one of the kidnappers asks his victim, “When half the city is knee-deep in shit and you’re rolling in an expensive car, you expect them not to hate you? Why shouldn’t they hate you?”

Secuestro Express introduces its subject from a nervous distance. The film opens with ominous music and sweeping, aerial shots of the city’s expansive slums. Tin-roofed shanties crammed onto the hills ringing the prosperous center city tumble over one another chaotically, but also seem massed, as if waiting for a signal to swallow up the high-rises and condos below. They are an explosion, a violence, waiting to happen.

Entreaties to “build the middle-class” and “extend a hand to whoever works for you” are of course meaningless, feel-good platitudes offered as alternatives to empowering the impoverished. It’s a politics based, like Secuestro Express is, on a fear of the poor. You almost have to feel sorry for Jakubowicz and company. They realize both the immorality and the danger of Venezuela’s class divide, but they are too timid to support those working to remedy it. They’re left, then, with their impossible dream: that through the extended hands of the rich, Niga, Budú, and the slums of Caracas will disappear—poof!—and Trece will be declared chairman of the Revolutionary Republic of Middle-Class Venezuela.

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